AMN Reviews: Daniel Rosenboom – Book of Storms (2016; Orenda Records)

Maybe there is something in the water or the air in Southern California. Always home to an active experimental music scene (though not as extensive as, say, New York or Chicago), the last few years have seen artists in the Los Angeles and San Diego areas produce a remarkable run of high-quality efforts. And among the emerging leaders are trumpeter / composer Daniel Rosenboom and his Orenda Records label.

Consisting of two tracks, this 37-minute release features, in addition to Rosenboom, Vinny Golia on bass clarinet and gongs, Jake Vossler on electric guitar, Tim Lefebvre on electric bass, and Matt Mayhall on drums. While rooted in jazz (and a comparison to the Electric Miles era would not be inappropriate), Rosenboom and all are more focused on a newer and more original combination of Wadada-influenced creative music and improv-inflected metal.

Envisioned as a pair of “ritual dances for the Shinto demon-gods of wind and thunder, Fujin and Raijin,” Book of Storms is largely focused on the interplay of guitar and trumpet, with the low-end instruments filling in the gaps at times, taking the lead at others. While the pieces appear to be composed, at least in outline form, they provide plenty of room for the players to stretch out into improvisation with varying degrees of freedom. Everyone contributes to the more open-ended sections. Throughout all of this, Mayhall’s capable and idiosyncratic drumming provides not only rhythms, but active interplay with the lead instruments.

The second track, Dance for Rajin, is of particular note. It begins with subtle atmospherics then morphs into doom-metal riffing with Rosenboom and Golia providing harsh blowing on top. Rosenboom leads the group with a solo for a few minutes with Vossler, Lefebvre, and Golia poking non-linearly around the edges, until Golia has an opportunity to say his piece. After a quiet interlude, the group focuses on extended techniques before launching into a guitar-laden rock-oriented break that, in turn, eventually slows into a climax with all players providing walls of sounds.

Recorded live over a year ago, Book of Storms is an example of Rosenboom’s strength as a bandleader. When viewing him as a whole – performer, composer, record label head – it is becoming clear that he is a prime voice in the aforementioned scene. We’ll be keeping our eyes and ears pointed to the southwest.